The U.S. workforce is poised to get 61 million new workers courtesy of Generation Z, which consists of those born between 1996 and 2010. That is according to a report by consulting firm BridgeWorks1, which deems the generation "financially conscious," "diverse and inclusive," "resilient," and "connected."
The Center for Generational Kinetics recently published findings from a large study of Gen Z and how it will impact the workforce. According to this, Gen Z is quite different from the millennial generation, and is even considered a "throwback generation," despite being the most connected generation of all time – one that does not remember "a time before blazing-fast Internet speed" and "being able to have anything you could possibly want delivered to your door with a single click."
Co-authors of the study and co-founders of the organization behind it – Denise Villa Ph.D. and Jason Dorsey – claim that Gen Z exhibits attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are similar to older generations in that its members want to work, save money, and "not get stuck or trapped."
Villa and Dorsey say, "This means the pressure is on other generations, including Millennials, to step up and pay close attention, begin to adapt swiftly, and do everything possible not to miss this huge Gen Z wave barreling toward them right now — as employees, customers, neighbors, voters, and citizens. All is far from lost, but choosing to delay a response or fail to make smart preparations now will only make the future more challenging for the non-Gen Z incumbent generations to employ, market, lead, educate, and influence this new generation."
The study found that 77 percent of Gen Z – who were ages 14-21 when surveyed – already earn their own spending money via freelance work, part-time jobs, or earned allowance. To put that into perspective, the firm also found that the percentage of millennials who are earning and spending is roughly the same.
"Discovering that Gen Z is actively working to earn money at a young age, whether through chores, employment, side jobs, or freelancing is exciting – particularly since most members of Gen Z are currently teens or pre-teens," the co-authors wrote.3 "While these numbers may not be reflected in the national employment rate, which is calculated differently than the question included in our national study, seeing such strong parity between the work lives of Gen Z and Millennials at this early stage is exciting. This shows that Gen Z is on a solid path for connecting effort and work with the outcome of earning spending money, and at a young age."
At 57 percent and 49 percent respectively, the study found that communication and problem solving are the skills that Gen Z believes it needs most to succeed in the workplace. According to the study, these are exactly the skills that employers find Millennials tend to lack. While 50 percent of Gen Z people said the skill they most need to improve is public speaking, 45 percent named communication skills. They seem more confident in their problem-solving abilities, with just 29 percent citing this as the area in which they need the most work.
The Center for Generational Kinetics believes the findings about skills suggest that employers, parents, and educators can focus on these areas to best prepare the generation for the workforce. Still, 85 percent of Gen Z people polled said they watched at least one online video the week prior to learn a new skill. This indicates that they'll be doing a great deal of learning on their own.
The workforce looks as though it will be flooded with Gen Z sooner rather than later as millions say they intend to work during college. Twenty-four percent say they will pay for college using personal savings.
The study also looked at what Gen Z most wants in a job. About 47 percent prioritize a fun work environment, while 44 percent are concerned with a flexible work schedule. Both characteristics garnered more interest than anything else, including paid time off, promotion opportunities, and job training. By comparison, Millennials prioritized a flexible work schedule and paid time off.
The co-authors consider the similarities between the priorities of both generations to be a sign that employers need to be open to new ways of scheduling work for their younger employees.
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